Under conditions so brutal that two teams withdrew, the Tri-Port Warriors fought to a second place finish in their division, less than three seconds behind Campbell River’s River Spirit, at an event Sept. 20.
A total of 14 Dragon Boat teams raced three times in Port Alberni through rain “jumping off the water,” said Warriors’ coach Cora Nelson.
“You get wet. It’s a water sport,” she said. “You still give’r.”
River Spirit and the Warriors have been rivals for the better part of 10 years, both on the water and off it.
They have — in good fun — stolen each other’s signs and posted snarky things on Facebook.
The Warriors even sneakily rearranged River Spirit’s lineup card.
Dragon boating is all part of a 2,000-year-old tradition, which originated in China, of packing a drummer, a steerer, and a lot of furiously-paddling people into a boat that looks like an oversized canoe.
The races have gained a following, and many point to a 1996 experiment on breast cancer survivors as a contributing factor.
A team of survivors — Abreast in a Boat — entered that year’s festival as part of a test of whether the exercise would cause terrible swelling in their arms, a long-feared side effect.
It turned out to be a myth, and some teams now include survivors, and race to raise awareness of breast cancer.
But there are teams of all stripes – youth, seniors, one made up mostly of people who’ve received organ transplants, and one with a number of visually-impaired people. That last one, out of Vancouver, is called Eye of the Dragon.